85 (passed away Apr. 30th, 2007)
Oct. 17th, 1921
Columbus, Ohio, USA
Tom Poston's Main TV Roles
Main Movie Roles
Guest TV Roles[none found]
Thomas Gordon "Tom" Poston (October 17, 1921 – April 30, 2007) was an American television and film actor. He starred on television in a career that began in 1950. He appeared as a comic actor, game show panelist, comedy/variety show host, film actor, television actor, and Broadway performer. According to USA Today Life editor Dennis Moore, Poston appeared in more sitcoms than any other actor. In the 1980s, he played George Utley, opposite Bob Newhart's character on Newhart.
Born in Columbus, Ohio, the son of George and Margaret Poston; his father was a liquor salesman and dairy chemist. After completing high school, Tom Poston attended Bethany College in West Virginia, but did not graduate. While there, he joined Sigma Nu Fraternity.
He joined the United States Army Air Forces in 1941. Accepted to officer candidate school and then graduating from flight training, Poston served as a pilot in the European Theater in World War II; his aircraft dropped paratroopers for the Normandy invasion. Poston served in North Africa, Italy, France, and England. After his discharge, he began studying acting in New York City graduating from the American Academy for Dramatic Arts.
Following military duty, Tom went to New York and studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Art, training with acting guru 'Sanford Meisner' , among others. Making his Broadway debut in 1947 in 'Jos� Ferrer production of "Cyrano de Bergerac", Tom had the makings of a serious dramatic actor, also appearing in such classic plays as "The Barretts of Wimpole Street" and "King Lear". Although he also appeared seriously in TV drama in the early stages, comedy would become his forte. Hosting the amusing daily TV show "Entertainment" led to his biggest break on 'Steve Allen' TV variety series The Steve Allen Show (1956). He, 'Louis Nye', 'Don Knotts' and other members of Allen's stock company became famous for their hilarious characters in Allen's famed sketch sequences. Tom himself would be best remembered as the "Man on the Street" interviewee who could never remember his own name. Winning an Emmy during those four seasons with the Allen show (1956-1960), Tom went on to host another program -- this time a game show -- entitled Split Personality (1959).
From this, he developed an affinity for parlor games and appeared as a panelist on other quiz shows as well, notably To Tell the Truth (1956). Given a chance to star in his own comedy films by the early 1960s, Tom went completely unnoticed in such blah vehicles as Zotz! (1962) and The Old Dark House (1963), which failed to capitalize on his delightfully bungling, eccentric humor, although he did turn in a very funny supporting perf as a perpetually soused playboy in the 'Dick Van Dyke' comedy Cold Turkey (1971).
After his movie career fell through, TV again became the object of his affection, usually in service to other stars. Alongside such top comedians as 'Bob Newhart' Newhart (1982) and 'Robin Williams' Mork & Mindy (1978), Tom's absent-minded "second banana" foils found their engaging niche. He also continued with light comedy theater vehicles such as "Forty Carats", "Come Blow Your Horn", "Plaza Suite" and "Mary, Mary" and even managed a few musicals ("A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" and "Fiddler on the Roof"). Tom's first wife was film actress 'Jean Sullivan'. Their daughter, 'Francesca Poston', also became an actress. He had two other children by second wife Kay, daughter Hudson and son Jason. They divorced in 1975 but remarried in 1980 and remained together until her death in 1998 from ALS. Kay and Tom appeared on many telethons to talk about the crippling disease.
Three years later, at age 80, Tom found happiness once again when he married lovely actress 'Suzanne Pleshette' (they originally met while appearing in the 1959 Broadway comedy "Golden Fleecing", then worked again together on the old The Bob Newhart Show (1972)). He provided glum, baggy-eyed comedy relief on TV as an octogenarian up until the end. Sadly, while wife Suzanne was battling cancer, Tom passed away unexpectedly at his Los Angeles home on April 30, 2007, after a brief illness. Stalwart Tom Poston may not have nabbed top comic stardom in his heyday, but he certainly enjoyed a long, durable career doing what he does best -- acting goofy and giving audiences a reason to smile.
- Was originally under contract to play Maxwell Smart ("Agent 86") in the show _"Get Smart" (1965)_ (qv).
- Served in the U.S. Air Corps from 1941 to 1945, flew over Europe on D-Day, and left the service with an Oak Leaf Cluster of medals. Oak leaf cluster is a devise that is attached to the ribbon (award). It denotes or signifies the person has received the same award more than once. There are silver or bronze in color. Each bronze counts for one, silver counts for five.
- Is allergic to onions.
- Ex-father-in-law of 'George S. Clinton' (qv).
- Child (with 'Jean Sullivan (I)' (qv)): daughter 'Francesca Poston' (qv).
- Together with 'Louis Nye' (qv) and 'Don Knotts' (qv), he was a regular cast member of _"The Steve Allen Show" (1956)_ (qv) television program. The trio performed the recurring "Man on the Street" skits.
- Father of 'Jason Poston' (qv) and daughter Hudson by his second wife Kay Hudson.
- Former acrobat with the Flying Zepleys.